A couple of weeks ago, the movie Joker was released in cinemas. Even before it came out, there was a lot of concern and controversy about the tone and message behind the movie. Would it cause violence from copycats? Isn’t it just an homage to classic films by Martin Scorsese? Are those problematic too? Does it make a very important statement about mental illness? Does it vilify it? Does it celebrate the problematic stance of incel culture? Does it scapegoat mental illness for the problems of gun violence? Does it blame society for the problems of the individual. Is this even a kind of story we should be telling in this day and age? These are all fair questions! The controversy was deepened by some rather unfortunate comments made in the press by the film’s director, Todd Phillips. But one thing is for sure, it is certainly in the cultural spotlight now, and so that’s something we want to talk about.
Joker is a movie about a protagonist who is absolutely evil. That much is certain. And so are many other movies (and books and other narratives) like Watchmen, Game of Thrones, King of Comedy, Taxi Driver, The Walking Dead, Teen Titans: the Judas Contract, and even MacBeth. But how are we supposed to read these things? If stories are supposed to be the way we build empathy for people who might not be like us, how are we supposed to feel about a character that is beyond sympathizing for… a character that is beyond redemption? Or… is no character truly irredeemable? Does the very concept of redemption even make sense outside of a Judeo-Christian biblical context? Hey… wait, what IS redemption anyway? Mav, Hannah and Wayne are joined by returning guest A. David Lewis to figure all of this out. Give it a listen and let us know your thoughts.
Citations and Links:
- Thank you to Maximilian’s thoughtForm Music for our theme
- Follow A. David Lewis on Twitter: @adlewis and buy his graphic novel, Kismet, Man of Fate
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- Follow Mav on Twitter: @chrismaverick
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